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As your business grows, it becomes harder to properly manage its finances. It takes too long to get the information you need, it’s difficult to make plans, and you could feel uncertain about your decisions. 

These challenges can often be traced to your finance team, but not because they aren’t good enough. Instead, it’s more likely they are stressed, over-worked, unfulfilled, and unmotivated.  

No matter how talented they are, your finance professionals will never be able to do their best work when feeling this way. 

In this article, we explore the secret ingredient to focus on to help your finance team to flourish and hit their true potential. 

That ingredient? Productivity

Here’s what we cover:

The little things matter

When it comes to productivity, your first thought may be around achieving more work in less time. While that’s certainly an outcome, there’s another side to productivity that creates far more value to your business.  

And that’s the impact of productivity on the daily experience of your people. 

Think of it this way—most people spend more of their lives at work than they do at home with their families, pursuing their hobbies, or taking care of their health. So, it’s vitally important that the experience of work is as positive as it can be.  

This applies to any job, but the roles found in the financial function of your business are particularly prone to complexity, stress, repetition, and dissatisfaction. Many professionals cite huge productivity killers like too much admin, working in silos, and unrealistic time pressures as part of their daily experience. 

A new Foundry survey revealed that this is extremely common among finance professionals. One respondent, a controller working in financial services, said: 

“75% of my job is just tedious, moving stuff to different spreadsheets. I think if I had better reporting, that would make my life a lot easier.” 

In other words, the little things that make up each day really matter. If these tasks are unproductive, tedious, and frustrating, your people may start to resent the work. They might even question their purpose and consider either leaving your business or exploring another career option entirely.  

Productivity > Wellbeing > Performance

Unnecessary strain on your finance team’s productivity also has a direct impact on your business’ ability to grow and succeed. This is because there is a strong relationship between productivity, wellbeing, and performance. 

When their daily tasks are either more difficult than they should be, or taking up too much of their time, your people start to suffer and can’t reach their full potential.  

Picture these 2 very different financial managers: 

Burnt-out Brian

  • Finds a lot of daily tasks mundane and repetitive. 
  • Is frustrated by lack of time to focus on meaningful work. 
  • Stressed by delays in getting the information he needs in time for a deadline. 
  • Skips breaks and lunch to get work done. 
  • Works late due to the amount of time spent on admin. 
  • Worries about work issues on evenings and weekends. 
  • Rushes work, which causes him to make mistakes. 
  • Feels like he’s working against other teams instead of with them. 

Productive Penny

  • Enjoys creative and strategic tasks that utilize her experience and expertise. 
  • Feels fulfilled in knowing her work is having an impact on the success of the business. 
  • Comfortably meets deadlines and provides leaders with the information they need when they need it. 
  • Takes breaks and lunch to rest and re-energize. 
  • Finishes on time and enjoys evenings with her family. 
  • Is mentally present in her personal life. 
  • Doesn’t worry about making admin errors or duplicating tasks. 
  • Collaborates with other teams and builds stronger relationships within the company. 

It’s clear which would stand the best chance at helping the business achieve its goals and drive financial performance. 

If you’re able to reduce stress, frustration, and worry about your team, you’ll help them to improve their personal wellbeing. They’ll have a better experience both at work and home by striking a healthier balance. 

Then, instead of resenting their daily tasks, they’ll be invigorated to do their best work. 

Help your team improve productivity, and you’ll see significant changes in attitude, morale, and performance. 

Quality over quantity

It’s worth noting that the goal of improving productivity can be misunderstood if handled incorrectly. The last thing you want is for your team to think you’re putting more pressure on them to deliver. 

Make it clear that instead of trying to get more work done, you’re aiming to free more of their time to focus on high-value work that is: 

  • More strategic 
  • More creative 
  • More fulfilling 
  • More impactful 
  • More collaborative 

An increase in volume will come organically, but this isn’t your sole motivation.  

How the cloud frees your time

There are almost limitless tools that can help you create the time and space your finance team needs to improve their wellbeing and performance. Rapidly rising in popularity since the pandemic, cloud-based accounting solutions are saving finance professionals countless hours every week. 

From pricing, invoicing and reconciliation, to reporting, analysis and forecasting, every area of accounting can become more productive with cloud capabilities.  

There are plenty of options out there, but broadly speaking, cloud software can help your finance team in the following ways: 

  1. Improve data accuracy and integrity 

When you have all your financial data on a single cloud platform, everyone on your team can work from the same up-to-date numbers. Standardized formatting resolves any data integrity issues, and your team only needs 1 solution to do their tasks.

“When you have a single source of truth, it’s almost like having a continuous close—you’re not waiting for a defined period to reconcile things. It saves people a tremendous amount of time, which they can spend on higher-level tasks.” SCOTT FREEDMAN, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT SAGE INTACCT.

2. Eliminate manual tasks

The centralized nature of the cloud empowers your teams to completely automate many manual tasks with the click of a button. As well as saving a significant amount of time each day, automation also eliminates human error in areas like reporting. This ensures any analysis you’re doing is more accurate and reduces the chance of serious issues that could be caught by auditors.  

According to Gartner, human error in finance costs organizations an average of $878,000 per year and results in 25,000 hours of rework. 

3. Strengthen security and compliance

The efficiency gained by the cloud helps to reduce the time your team needs to spend managing security and compliance, while also lowering risk.  

This is because many cloud-native solutions have built-in compliance and security controls that only authorized people can access. Automation is also used to provide proof to auditors that you’re doing everything right, and it can also implement updates and patches, saving countless hours of labor. 

Final thoughts

A stressed-out finance team will never truly flourish. As a leader, you need to empower those that handle a vital function of your business with the time and space they need. 

By taking advantage of the cloud and giving them the tools to work more productively, you can transform their daily experience, help them improve their wellbeing, and start hitting their full potential. 

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